A Milder Gaslighting

The traditional definition of “gaslighting” is a form of psychological abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting their own memory, perception, and sanity [Wikipedia]. I hope you’ve seen the original movie because it’s absolutely fantastic.

But what about milder forms of this, where someone (doesn’t have to be a man, but in my case I’m talking about men) keeps you off-balance by continually changing “the rules,” rejecting you for giving him something he asked for, alternatively complimenting and criticizing so you don’t know where you stand, etc., but doing all this in a very smooth, charming way so the vertigo becomes part of the overall dating dynamic and you would need to exert a lot of effort to pull out a fine strand of the “gaslight”to analyze? And it might make you sound a little bit crazy to even mention this, so you don’t. You shrug it off as people being “quirky.” Quirky is cool, right? I like quirkiness.

I’ve been noodling over this “vertigo” lately. I wonder why dating makes me nauseated, especially when I actually like someone, which is exceedingly rare. Met a man recently who seemed confused about what he wanted from a relationship. Did he want something intense or casual? He didn’t appear to know, so how was I supposed to figure it out? Some days he craved convos full of deep, emotional content, while other days he was superficial, skittering around anything of substance. He’d demand that I tell him something very personal and then he’d ignore it, later saying I talked too much and he didn’t have a chance to say anything in reply. Sure, people are allowed to be moody and inconsistent, but I started to suspect it was deliberate, to keep me pecking madly like the birds in the famous experiment. If you know you’re going to get something steady, you relax and trust, but if it’s variable and random, you stay alert and focused, nervous and high-strung, waiting, wondering. Some men (people) want you to remain in that state of agitated anxiety. It’s a control mechanism. He certainly wasn’t the first man I’ve met who acted this way. But I liked him a lot and gave him a very generous benefit of the doubt.

Now, some women (people) of course don’t give a shit about any of this. They’re immune. They don’t have a genuine emotional reaction (although they may fake one) to the doling out and subsequent withdrawal of compliments, endearments, criticisms, big emotional shares, etc., in this way at all; it doesn’t affect how they respond to the other party. Maybe they’re conducting their own attempts at manipulation and are oblivious to what’s being flung at them, or maybe they’re on a different wavelength altogether. But I’m not one of these peeps, and I can’t be one of them. So, any advice in that realm (“stop caring”) is super unhelpful. I will always care ~ my goal is to recognize more quickly when this mild gaslighting is occurring and GTFO.

Luckily, I GTFO of that last one fairly quickly, but I’ll be honest and admit it had nothing to do with my skill at recognizing any subtle gaslighting while it was ongoing. It was because something else happened to piss me off and force an ending. Only now I can see the weird manipulative stuff going on during that short-lived romance. It’s possible this stuff was not deliberate or conscious on his part ~ I don’t know, or even care. It was happening, is all I need to understand. At my age, I don’t have the luxury of waiting around while a man sorts out his psychological issues. He’s either together enough emotionally to build a healthy relationship, or he’s not. EOS.

I find it interesting that the men I’ve been most romantically attracted to and have begun relationships with, of whatever duration, have found ways to criticize me, right from the start. This makes me feel awkward, I apologize a lot, and they tell me to stop apologizing (cuz it’s annoying). I end up annoying myself with so much apologizing, but I find it hard to quit. Suddenly I’m enmeshed in this uncomfortable dynamic of feeling I’m on the verge of ruining everything, but I believe all will be OK as soon as X happens. X is different for every situation. Sometimes my belief turns out to be true: X happens and things are good, for a while. Sometimes it’s false: X happens and things still aren’t good. And sometimes X fails to happen… and the relationship usually ends quickly.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a clever way to end this poast. I’ve had a bad week, but I’m looking forward to a fun Saturday with a friend. As before, I’m doing fine alone and have a surprisingly great support system despite (or maybe because of) no romantic partner in my life. Most likely that is how things will remain.

It could be worse.



November Blog Moar Poetry.

I hear the groans from over the Rockies and indeed from across the pond. SHAD DAP! I am going to poast shitty poetry here during November and you’ll read it. My goal is to poast a pome a day. If I fail then… nothing happens. Not a damn thing. I’ll also poast moar stuffs in general, following the shitty poetry, sorta like eat your broccoli and then you can haz some ice cream kinda thing, since I’m nice like that. I am a nice person! I don’t know why moar people don’t see that, and the beatings will continue until they do. Fucksake.

I may experiment with different types of poetry, cuz I’m kinky like that. My fantasy is to begin slow, with forms we’re all familiar with, and end up at a sestina. I’m not saying it’ll be a good sestina ~ it’ll suck, no doubt ~ but I’ve never actually finished one, and it’s in my bucket list. Har. Yeah, some people have trips to Fiji, climbing Mount Everest, and making lurve in a hot air balloon in their bucket lists. I have writing a sestina in mine. Hey, we’re all different and this is okay.

If you don’t understand what the BFD is about sestinas, I suggest you read this one by Neil Gaiman and learn something.

Go read my updated bio on NaNoWriMo and add me as a buddy if you haven’t already. I don’t care if you’re not doing the thing. You can just blog moar too or cheer me on or what.ever. Poast your own crappy poetry in my comments! (Wait until November, plz.) I see I have an older photo on the site, but who cares? I haven’t changed much. Still bitter and annoyed by All The Things.

But I’m nice. To the nice.

I Have So Much To Say

But I’m extremely tired and that’s not fair to you, my loyal blogpeeps. I’m so sorry. I’ve been struggling with a title for the last hour. Well, that’s really a lie. A lie! I sort of half-assedly have been noodling around with titles, but really I tweeted a maudlin pome and then tweeted some dopey movie hashtag thingers. I don’t even know why I bother with those, since no one thinks mine are funny and they never generate new tweepers. If you don’t know, tweepers are twitter followers. I do know, because I have my finger on the pulse of the whole social media shebang. Are we still allowed to say shebang? Someone plz go check on that.

I also fell asleep on the kitchen table for around 15 minutes but we won’t talk about that. No, I can’t go to bed at 9:30pm because that will completely destroy the night and I’ll be up at 2am and Wednesday will be ruined. I must suffer until around 11pm when I have a fighting chance of sleeping until 5am or so.

So, I’ve been dating again. Dating! And as we know the only good thing about my dating is that it gives me the opp to share amusing stories with y’all. Of course I protect everyone’s privacy because I are not a horrible person, unless someone is really mean to me, at which point I might be horrible, depending. So far, no one’s been too awful or hilarious, and I apologize for that, but I’m sure a psycho will be along soon, so just have some patience. Yes, I realize I might be the psycho in the equation, but that’s what makes it even funnier, no?

One of the titles I was noodling with was “Bullet Dodged,” which is one of my fave phrases stolen from bloggy writer friend Jen. I didn’t use it because it would have forced me to write about only the one thing when I was in the mood to ramble on like I’ve been doing, but since I just mentioned it, let me say that indeed I did have a bullet-dodged experience very recently. I met someone mid-September that I had a good connection with. Though I had some concerns, I was relatively happy proceeding with him. I understand that people are going to have different MO’s, so if a guy is going to be slow and cautious some days, but other days intense and enthusiastic, I can live with that, for a little while. I’m moody too. I try to be flex and understanding of what might have happened in the past to give people pause sometimes; maybe they’re reflecting on whatever memories some days yada. But after a while I start to think there are too many mixed messages and it gets annoying. I don’t want to feel jerked around. No one likes that.

Anyway, dude and I had a date planned for this past weekend. But I got upset Friday night when I discovered that there might be some shenanigans going on with my bank account. I tried to resolve this Saturday morning when the bank opened but didn’t have any success. It would have to wait until Monday to be dealt with. Since dude and I were on the phone I did end up talking about the bank issue and he knew I was stressed. He cancelled the date because he thought I wouldn’t be any fun with the issue distracting me. I thought that was a shitty thing to do, and the more I thought about it, the worse I felt about him. I grok that some may perceive this differently, but he and I had already engaged in many hours of intense phone and in-person convos regarding all sorts of heavy emotional content… and the idea that he’d be all, nah, this date won’t be all butterflies and lollipops like our previous ones, can’t handle possible less than perfect mood Paula, run away, run away… well, I thought eff this. What kind of immature, chickenshit, issue-avoider am I dealing with here?

Bottom line: I didn’t want to continue dating a man who’d cancel a date because I had a bad day or a problem or an issue. Sunday night I told him that and we were done. Bullet dodged. And very early on at that, less than a month in. I feel lucky this happened, even though the bank thing is a big pain in the butt (should be resolved in a couple days).

Yet… probably less of a pain than getting involved in a complicated relationship I’d find it difficult to extricate myself from later. It’s nice when someone shows his true colors and gives a clear sign of who he is. I need to pay attention and not disregard that the way I used to, make excuses for it because I like other traits. No! Here’s your sign, right here, right now. Look at it. Pay attention. Don’t be distracted by witty lines and movie quotes and sky blue eyes. Here’s a man who only shows up for the birthday cake and balloons, but never when you need help putting away the chairs; and he doesn’t want your help either. That’s not my idea of building a relationship. People mean vastly different things by the word “relationship,” that’s for damn sure. It’s good to talk about this early on as well.

But talking only gets you so far. We did talk, a whole lot. But this broken date painted a hundred thousand words.

I know this poast isn’t funny. See Vinnie out on the dock for a refund.


PS: I might be doing a verson of NaNo. I’m calling it NoBloMoPo (November Blog Moar Poetry). Kbai.

My Creative Mommy

When I was a kid, I didn’t think it was anything special that my mom single-handedly remodeled our homes. No, I don’t mean she went shopping and had furniture delivered, hired men to paint, and found contractors to install new flooring. I mean she stripped wallpaper, put up new paper, painted walls, redid floors herself, built shelves, planted gardens with fences, created fancy dollhouses for me out of moving boxes, etc. Didn’t all mothers do these things?

I spent a lot of time walking with her through hardware stores, yet for whatever reason she seemed to avoid teaching me to help her. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect she didn’t want to impose her interests on me because she wanted me to find my own. While she was busy with her DIY stuffs, I would be reading or drawing doggies or making bead necklaces or embroidering a denim shirt… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In New Jersey, she experimented quite a bit with recipes. We had a large garden and the typical zucchini megacrop. That was fun. She also went through a homemade soup phase and a Jell-O mold phase and a DIY ice cream phase… and of course a breadmaking phase. We also had a summer of candlemaking. I wish I had photos. See, if I’d made candles with my kids, that would definitely have generated a scrapbook spread, but my mom didn’t do scrapbooks, and photos were mostly taken on vacations. I have no tangible evidence of our candle phase, except the memory that it was fun. I know I made a few colorful mushrooms that could have festooned a set of Alice in Wonderland. There was also at least one frog and possibly other woodland flora and fauna.

Later on, whenever I was interested in something, my mom found a way to help me with it, if she could (or if I would let her). I didn’t appreciate this so much at the time, but isn’t it a nice quality of someone who cares about you? I appreciate that now, when a friend offers the gift of their time unexpectedly. It’s such a generous thing to do. I’m trying to be more that way myself, remembering Mom and what a kind, caring, generous person she was.

I will always miss her.


I wrote this poast yesterday, when I was in a good mood, though a little misty-nostalgic. But I waited to fling it out there until I found a cute photo of Mom & me (not that cupcake one from my first birthday). Life happened and now I’m upset. I can’t focus on finding a photo in the ridiculous external backup drive with 10 million zip files, omg annoying. I can’t even be bothered going back and copying the prompt text for candle. This isn’t even about candles anymore. I just wish Mom were here to give me a hug.


Have a great weekend, my peeps. I appreciate you.

Regarding Arguments

Recently, for whatever reason, maybe because it’s a particularly hideous political season with vicious arguments everywhere, a few friends have asked can Ultraviolet please come out to play?

Ahhhh, UV, usenet warrior of a thousand flames! She who single-handedly took on the combat prose veterans of alt.writing (I’d say it was a draw, no?). She who raided alt.anger and forced its pirates to walk the plank, arrrr. Later she morphed into a fearsome blogger queen… with minions! Yup, that’s the UV they’ve been asking about. But…truth is… she is not merely suppressed, waiting to spring out at any moment to resume her slashing and burning, but rather long gone, vanished, kaput. UV surged from a raging well of anger and pain, and that well has long since evaporated. There’s nothing left to draw upon.

What’s left is just me, dgaffing. Someone who can argue to the death, coldly, but most of the time, 99% of the time, chooses not to because I don’t care enough and I’ve reclaimed my time. The usual place from which potential arguments arise is when a friend of a friend on FB takes issue with a comment I’ve made on said friend’s poast. They’ll huff at me and I may respond mildly, or not at all. Rarely will I engage in anything more. One problem I do run into frequently on FB is that less intelligent people misunderstand what I write. I don’t usually take the time to write FB poasts/comments in such a way that they can be grasped by those who aren’t super smart and witty because I’m used to dealing with peeps at the SS&W level. This is a failing on my part because I could write more carefully, as I do here. If the replies to my carelessness get annoying, I simply delete my writing, end of issue. The old UV would have mocked the lack of reading comp, but I don’t do that now, because why? And anyway… maybe I should mock my own lack of writing clarity, eh?

I live-poasted the second Presidential debate Sunday night on FB, but in a relatively fair and funny way, which generated lots of smart and amusing comments from friends, and I was happy with that. This is what I like to see ~ people having fun with words, maybe mocking politicians and/or celebrities, but not turning against each other too much. I don’t like to see meanness. It makes me anxious and flings me back in time 45-50 years to my parents’ screamy fights when I thought the world was ending.

But that’s online… what about meatspace? Well, with rare exception, I was never UV in “real life.” I hate conflict and I go to great lengths to avoid it. Not talking about intrigue and drama ~ some of that can be interesting, up to a point. I’m not above jumping into a freshly raked pile of rumors and gossip, wheee! But as far as actual yelling and shouting and expressing all my raw and naked feelings so they aren’t bottled up inside waiting to explode (as my parents liked to say)… uh, no thank you. I’ll just have a cupcake.

My parents were sort of a little bit right though. Doesn’t it just kill us to have to admit this? Ow ow ow… the pain! It’s only taken me 55 years. While I still disagree with their hippy-dippy let it all hang out baby approach (they weren’t hippies by any stretch of the imagination, yet they somehow acquired this mindset regarding emotional dumpage), I now understand there is something to be said for emotional honesty in friendships and romances. It pretty much does suck to keep your real feelings suppressed 24/7 in your personal relationships… there has to be a happy medium between blurting everything out and hurting people with bluntness and keeping everything suppressed so that you don’t feel like anyone even really knows you.

And as one of the two Ronnies said, when I find that happy medium, I shall strike her. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? I heard she likes it…


Via The Daily Prompt: Argument

In Which Our Scatterbrained Heroine Forgets An Epiphany

Epiphanies are wonderful things, those aha, lightbulb moments that make us feel that all our angst might finally be at an end because we have Figured Things Out. We feel free and clear and sparkling and buoyant. Golden sunshine pours in through our windows. Gauzy lace drapes float in the fragrant jasmine breeze. Bluebirds trill on the tree branches. And someone baked a pie! Mmmpie…

For years and years and years I was pretty regularly eating Zone bars. They’re yummy. They’re packed with protein and nutrients. They’re easy to grab and take anywhere. And they’re filling/satisfying. Love ’em. Lots of great flavors too.

But earlier this year I began to associate them with migraine frequency. Now, I can’t recall if it was the chocolate flavors specifically, or all of them generally, but I stopped eating them. Immediately felt better. Yikes! Still got migraines of course, but for a million other reasons. I put Zone bars out of my mind. (They aren’t that great.) This summer I got really sick, really really sick… why, I don’t know, but I suspect it was from a poki bowl (raw fish). I don’t mean I was sick for a day ~ I was sick for weeks. Didn’t talk about it much, except to my kids. I was hardly eating anything and lost around six pounds, which is significant for me. I was super-weak too and couldn’t do much, not even my light exercise routines.

Finally, I’m mostly better… eating somewhat normally (for me), doing my silly exercises, etc. Last weekend I went grocery shopping and for whatever reason grabbed a box of Zone bars. Hey, I thought to myself, haven’t had these in a while, so I’ll take ’em to work for quickie breakfasts. Great idea! Except that every day that I’ve had one, the next day I’ve woken up with a crushing migraine. Not the “normal” kind that starts out as an annoying stab in my right temple and can sometimes be knocked out with caffeine, but the kind that slams into the middle of my forehead like someone hit me in the face with a hammer while I was asleep. I have to take meds immediately, which is tricky because I also feel like I’m going to barf immediately. Today was the worst of the lot, and I remembered that  yesterday I had TWO Zone bars, one for breakfast and one later in the day because I got the hungry snackies (and I never buy Snickers bars anymore, yay me).

After the pain abated somewhat I remembered I had forgotten that months ago I realized Zone bars might be contributing to migraine attacks.



Via The Daily Prompt: Realize

Our Weeping Willow



My parents bought a house in Middletown, NJ in 1971. My mom painted my bedroom purple, which was cool. By coastal SoCal standards, this was a huge house, with a yard, front and back. But it was a moderately priced home at the time, in a middle class neighborhood. Nothing special.

Except for one thing. In the back yard an ancient weeping willow stood sentinel: a stately tree, resilient, resolute, enormous. Its lower branches were thick, solid enough to hold a couple 10 year old friends who liked to sit and chat. In summer its delicate leaves brushed all the way down to the skinny creek that divided our homes from the ones behind us. Unlike today, builders didn’t construct giant block walls for separation.

My mom put a picnic table under the tree and my friends and I pretended it was a pirate ship. We brought out flour and water to make willow cake, which is what our crew ate on their long voyages. (We didn’t actually eat this.) I had a dog then, and she played with us. We looked for creatures in and around the creek ~ tiny darting fish, frogs, lizards. Once I thought I saw a rat, but no one believed me.

In winter, of course, the ship turned into a fort for snowball fights. We didn’t climb the tree then, and the creek had turned to ice. Creatures still came around, but they were harder to spot.

Our last summer in NJ, before my father left for the job in Illinois, my parents had a fight at that picnic table. My mom had made steaks on the grill, and I remember staring at mine, cutting it into tiny pieces as the juices oozed out on my plate, while they raged at each other. At one point, she threw her glass of wine in his face and he did the same to her. Everything was red and dripping under the weeping willow.

Dad went to Illinois. Mom and I had months alone in NJ until the house sold. We went to the beach a lot. Eventually I had to say goodbye to my purple room and the stately tree. By that time, my pirate ship friends and I had long gone our separate ways, so nbd about them.

This morning I failed to find any photo of a weeping willow on Google that resembled our NJ tree, so I used Monet’s painting instead.

Via The Daily Prompt: Tree

The Philosophy Test

The other day (seems a lifetime ago), I blarghed about a psychology test and a professor who abandoned the class. Today I’m going to talk about a different professor, a philosophy prof, at the same college, CSUN. He wasn’t what I expected from a professor in any way whatsoever. At first glance, one might have taken him for a member of Sons of Anarchy, if such a thing had existed then. But he was gentle and kind, always helpful. I turned in my first paper on cat stationery and he told me that it would be a good idea to cultivate a more professional look. LOL. He said it very nicely.

There are many different kinds of philosophy classes, as you are undoubtedly aware, and this one in particular was a logic class. At the time, in my mid-20s, I was pretty arrogant about my ability to ace a logic class without paying much attention to the professor. Logic was like math, I thought, which I could learn from following the book, or even my own instincts. Thus, I departed from my usual copious note-taking and diligent study habits. And indeed, I received a super high grade on the first test.

Obviously I was a math/logic genius and could relax about this class, focusing my efforts more on other classes that required conceptual analysis/writing and/or memorization of giant globs of data.

Then came the second test. I swaggered in with confidence… and left in tears.

I got a D. And not in the good way.

The class was now significantly underway and I had majorly screwed up. In order to fix it, I’d have to basically start over and pay attention, not rely on my “instincts.” The best thing to do, I decided, would be to drop the class this semester, and begin it again next time. So, I picked up a drop form and went to the professor’s office to have him sign it.

“Why do you want to drop my class?” he asked.

Eesh, I didn’t know I’d have to explain! I thought they just signed the damn forms. How could I tell him that I didn’t want to wreck my fab GPA and I couldn’t deal with catching up by muddling along and asking questions like a dope? Best to throw this out and start over later like always. That’s what I do! That’s my thing!

“Well, I um… I guess I did so well at first I thought I’d keep doing the problems that way and didn’t pay enough attention to the next chapter. I think it would be too confusing to catch up now while the class is moving on.”

“Oh, nonsense. Have a seat. We can go over the test right now and clear up all the stuff you didn’t understand. Then you’ll be fine to start the next section. There’s no reason to drop. I’m not signing the form.”

“You’re not signing the form?”

He grinned at me. “Nope!”

So, I was forced out of my comfort zone of tossing out things that were imperfect and starting over… and instead learned how to make the best of it and patch things up and go on. It was a great learning experience, and I ended up with a B. My GPA didn’t suffer more than a tiny fraction of a point.

The philosophy professor did me a huge favor that day by refusing to sign my drop form. I just wish I had applied this lesson to otter areas of my life more frequently.

Something to remember more often.


The Psychology Test

Back at CSUN, I took a beginning psych class for one of my requirements. The professor announced that he was a bit messed up emotionally, as he’d just begun going through a divorce. I remembered that back in 7th grade, in Middletown, NJ, my social studies (which is what they called history there) teacher had been going through a divorce, and she regaled us with tales of it, which is why we kept falling further behind in the syllabus and never got much past the carpetbaggers. I totally blame her self-indulgent blather for the fact that I know nothing about the years from 1870-WW1. Annoying. (No, I can’t read about it now, sheesh. Got bloggery to do, pomes to scribble, walls to stare at.)

Anyway. Back to the psych guy. He began well enough with reading assignments and strong class lectures, during which I took copious notes, as is my wont. If I don’t take notes in class, then I’ll start doodling geometric thingies and conjuring up phrases that could be fun to put in pomes later and I won’t remember anything wot the professor said. So, my notes pretty much rock. Psych guy announced there would be a test, so I read the chapters a few times and memorized my notes. I did well on the test ~ got a 98%. For whatever reason, he congratulated me as he handed my test back, so everyone knew I had the highest grade.

Out in the hallway, a couple peeps cornered me and asked if I would divulge my secret to getting such a high grade on the test. (I was a bit bummed at not getting 100%, but I didn’t say that, because… you know.)

“Well,” I told them. “First, I read the chapters again and then I study my notes. Then I’ll look over the book a third time and probably read my notes twice more to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Usually the professors ask a lot of questions from their lectures.”

The other students just stared at me. Finally one said, “So, like, you don’t have any special trick?”

“No,” I said. “I just study a lot.”

I don’t think that’s what they wanted to hear.

A week later, psych guy said he was falling apart and couldn’t go on teaching the class, so we could end with the grade we had now or finish up the semester with a teaching assistant. Obviously I took my 98% and jumped out. Which is why I had to find out about abnormal psych on the street, so to speak.


Via The Daily Prompt: Test


Doctor Sleep’s Fatal Flaws


This is going to be a super duper major spoiler of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I mean, absolutely 100%. Ready? K.

I did enjoy the novel while I was reading it because the main character Dan Torrance (Danny from The Shining, all grown up) was very compelling and I wanted to find out what happened to him. But after a bit of rumination (moo!), I sadly discovered huge flaws in the story.

The evil undead True Knot creatures feast on essences aka “steam” of people who have “the shining.” They prefer young’uns, since the shining is shinier in children, but they’ll take anyone they can get, because food. They can go awhile without eating steam and in the meantime they nom on meatloaf and mac&cheese like regular polyester-clad retirees in motor homes. They aren’t exactly like vampires ~ real vampires nom only on blood, IIRC. King never fully explains how this Knot originated and endured in ye tyme of olde, what they did before they blopped around the U.S. in motorhomes and stayed connected via modern technology, but whatever. He vaguely hints at gypsy caravans, but that’s not satisfactory. They aren’t Roma peeps. They’re almost all Americans, doing American things. These are minor nits though.

A larger nit is the early reference to dogs. The True Knot doesn’t like dogs and dogs don’t like them. Got it. This is a gun placed on a table. And King forgot he put it there. If it was important enough to mention, which it is because normally motorhome peeps have some pooches traveling around with them, then it has to be used later. I’m surprised at King! There should have been a dog in the story later on. Bummer.

But the hugest plot hole of all is as follows. The Knot kills Bradley the baseball boy in 2011. Bradley, age 11, was feeling poorly that day because he was coming down with the measles. A few years later, the Knot begins getting the measles and dying. An half-baked idea is tossed out that maybe the Knot used to have immunity from “rube” diseases and now they don’t, sort of like genes turning off. OH COME ON!  This is totally insulting to the reader. Obviously the only reason this “measles device” is flung into the story two years after the Knot consumed Bradley’s measles steam, is to provide a reason why the Knot has to go after Abra right now. Otherwise, there’d be no compulsion to get going immediately.

Rose, the Knot leader, is already aware of super-shining steamgirl Abra (Danny’s niece) and definitely wants to eat her essence, but has been holding off. Now, as the Knot gets sicker and their steam reserves grow low, it becomes imperative to get Abra now. Abra’s super duper shiny steam will boost them all to fab youth and vigor, plus she’s most likely been vaccinated, so she’ll have the double-effect of protecting any Knots who haven’t caught the measles yet from any measles germies circulating in their systems from lil Bradley. Logical, yah?

Dan used this logic to destroy a big tangle of the Knot in the penultimate battle of the story as he unleashed his dead mother-in-law’s cancerous essence into the room where they were assembled. The creatures were forced to inhale her poisonous steam, at which point they shriveled up and disappeared. Ooh, so clever and satisfying! And the reader was gratified to know that Dan himself wasn’t dying of a weird mysterious stomach ailment that had been plaguing him during the trip to the Overlook (yes, of The Shining), but had simply been transporting Momo. Yay!

But but but…

HOLD ON A MINUET. Let’s back up here. In 2001, the Knot sensed something big was going down at the WTC and lumbered into NJ to watch the disaster. They fed off the “steam” of the terrified and dying people from the Twin Towers. Some of those essences naturally contained souls who had a little bit of the shining, so it was a “good feed” for the evil creatures. That’s all fine so far. (Sorta. Seemed like later on they had to be physically closer to their victims.) BUT BUT BUT. Doesn’t it also stand to reason that some of those doomed WTC souls also had cancer, heart disease, flu, measles, whatever?

HELLOOOO?!?!?! The poor peeps from the Towers couldn’t have all been perfectly healthy and disease-free with pure, clean steam. Why weren’t the Knot getting sick from all kinds of stuff between 2001 and Bradley-time?

And what about the years and decades and centuries prior to that? The Knot never killed a kid who was sick before? They never inhaled “bad” steam? Bradley was the only one? Not believable! All the reader has to go on is this throwaway non-explanation that maybe the Knot’s scyfy genes turned off their protective immunity mechanisms the same way normal humans are programmed to age and die at some point. Meh.

I submit that King’s premise of the Knot staying healthy until Bradley’s measles is a fatal flaw of Doctor Sleep.

I am totally disappointed in him for this.

PS: I’ve searched for anyone else picking up on the fatal flaw I found, and so far have not found any discussion whatever. Am I off-base? No. People are not willing to see it because they are too busy praising King or else they’re criticizing the book for not being “scary” enough, which is just silly. Horror is like porn. If this doesn’t get you going, you’re too immersed in the genre. Take a looooong break.